Low-level genital HIV shedding in Thai HIV-infected women with suppressed plasma viral load after menopause: a longitudinal study

Author List
Nadia Kancheva Landolt
Tanya Do
Naruporn Kasipong
Rosalin Kriengsinyot
Sasiwimol Ubolyam
Apicha Mahanontharit
Tippawan Pankam
Tanakorn Apornpong
Anchalee Avihingsanon
Jintanat Ananworanich
Nittaya Phanuphak
Surasith Chaithongwongwatthana


Objectives: First, to evaluate the longitudinal changes of HIV RNA in genital secretions in HIV-positive women with plasma HIV RNA <50 copies/mL before and after the onset of menopause. Second, to assess inflammatory markers and prevalence of comorbidities after the onset of menopause. Methods: This was a prospective observational study with two time points. HIV RNA in genital secretions (GVL) was measured in 15 HIV-positive menopausal women (second time point). Results were compared to earlier available data for GVL from the same participant before the onset of menopause (first time point). Results: Median age at the first time point was 42 years, and 52 years at the second time point. Median time since the onset of menopause was 2 years and 33% of women were sexually active. Eighty per cent had at least one comorbidity. The GVL before menopause was >50 copies/mL in 27% of the participants, and in 40% after menopause. The GVL was <1000 copies/mL in all but one measurement. There was no significant difference between the two time points (P=0.687). Intermediate vaginal flora or bacterial vaginosis was found in 73% of participants during the second time point. Conclusions: There was a high prevalence of low-level GVL shedding before and after menopause. This needs further investigation, especially in relation to the vaginal microbiome and the complex interactions between micro-organisms. HIV-infected women in menopause do not seem to present a major public health risk for HIV transmission. Nevertheless, safe sex should be discussed with all, regardless of age. The high prevalence of non-communicable diseases after menopause requires special attention and comprehensive care.

Article Category

HIV Treatment

Article Type

Original research

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